As a senior in college, I’m no stranger to The Dorm Life™. I lived in a double for the first semester of college, but for the last couple of years I’ve had my very own medical single! Obviously, every situation is different and some of these tips may not be applicable to you, but in general, these are my recommendations for how to make the most of your space.
First and foremost, if you’re going into your first year, take a piece of my advice and cut back on school supply shopping. One of the biggest shocks to me coming into college was the fact that 95% of my work is done on my laptop and submitted online, so things like highlighters, binders, paper, and folders are essentially useless. You will probably want to consider getting some of these things, just in case, but I promise you won’t have to go overboard like you did in high school. You simply don’t need 5 accordion folders, 200 pens, and five stacks of notebook paper to get good grades. All you need is a reliable computer and a pair of headphones, and you should be all set. This will not only clear up space in your dorm, but also space in your school bag!
The best thing I ever invested in space-wise for college was a garment rack. They’re pretty easy to find (I got mine on Amazon), and come apart fairly painlessly at the end of the school year. Now that I put all of my clothes on this rack, I have a completely free closet to fill with other things! For me personally, I fill my closet with pantry staples, towels, and coats. It really does make a huge difference in dorm space, and the clothing rack itself isn’t too mass-intensive. I also like to store my shoes on the bottom part of the rack, which helps me to free up even more space in my room.
Most college dorm beds can be adjusted lower or higher, depending on what you prefer. For me, I keep mine pretty close to the ground, but not low enough that I can’t utilize under-bed storage. Get yourself two or three big plastic bins and specifically designate them for supplies you’ll need. I have one bin under my bed for spare sheets and pillowcases, and another one for feminine hygiene products and other spare shower supplies. It does wonders for making my room feel extra organized, and again, it helps me free up quite a bit of extra space.
This kind of relates to the first point I brought up, but try to only bring things you know that you’ll use on a daily/weekly basis. This can be really difficult, because overpacking is something I think we’re all guilty of. When you’re packing for college, take some time to really think practically about the things you pack. How likely is it that you’ll actually use the thing you’re packing? Can you picture yourself using it within the next few days or next few weeks? If not, it might just be taking up extra space. This may seem like a trivial tip, but it has actually helped me cut back on so much extra stuff I don’t need. It certainly makes moving in and out of my dorm that much easier at the beginning and end of the semester.
It’s a pretty standard college fact that you will slowly amass things in your dorm over time, much of which you won’t really need or use. Regularly declutter and donate things that you’re not using, such as spare clothes, cans of food, of knick knacks just sitting around. Relating to the last point, I sometimes bring duplicates of things I already own, and end up donating them because they’re just sitting and taking up space (such as scarves, skincare products, bed sets, etc). I don’t need two bottles of lotions or two bathrobes in my dorm. If I discover I have a duplicate, I’ll either send one home or re-gift it to a friend. You’ll find that this not only makes your room feel lighter, but can make you feel lighter as a person as well.
Anywho, those are my top five tips for staying organized and decluttered at school! I’m about twelve weeks into my senior year, and my room is still just about as organized as it was when I first moved in. Every week or so, I go through my things and throw away what needs to go, and generally give my room a little pick-me-up. I think cleaning often for smaller amounts of time is way more enjoyable than doing one giant clean-out every season, and it feels much more practical, too. I hope my tips have helped you, and I’d love to hear some of your pieces of advice in the comments as well!